Helping feral cats overcome the odds

Jennifer Motzkus cuddles one of the many kittens she’s helped since moving to the Cromberg area and becoming a volunteer. She isn’t able to drive to Quincy for medical reasons, but she finds ways to do her part. Photo submitted

One Cromberg area resident and her husband specialize in caring for feral cats.

Jennifer Motzkus and her husband Frank have probably one of the few remaining, legitimate rescue homes for feral cats.

Although the term feral is used for a variety of animals, it’s most commonly linked with cats. Feral animals, including cats, live almost the same lifestyle as wild animals, according to the “Difference Between Feral and Wild,” a feature Motzkus shared recently.

Feral animals have been domesticated previously, but for some reason are in the wild. Perhaps they became separated when their humans moved, there was a disaster or they were dumped. And they usually continue to breed.

Feral cats aren’t wild cats, according to the feature. Wild cats or animals live in the wild without direct influence on their lifestyles by humans.

Feral cats, unless they have human assistance once again, tend to live only two years, Motzkus said.

While some people believe they’re helping feral cats by feeding them, the only valid help is to catch them and have them spayed or neutered. This decreases the population and doesn’t allow the problem to continue or to continue at a near overwhelming rate.

Once feral cats have been fixed then they can receive additional medical attention, such regular vaccinations. Then feeding them becomes the right thing to do without encouraging a population of unhealthy animals.

Finding Motzkus

Rose Buzzetta, a leading organizer behind Friends of Plumas County Animals, received a call from Motzkus saying she was willing to help — especially with feral cats.

Buzzetta said she had visions of the kind of place she was going to find when she went to visit the Motzkuses one day. She thought she would find an old mobile home and a jungle. But the place was beautiful, she exclaimed.

And it was the beginning of a strong bond between them.

Since volunteering for the program, Motzkus has stepped in and cared for more than her share of tiny kittens.

The younger the kittens, the more time consuming they are. There are the timed feedings every few hours around the clock. They must be kept clean, similar to what a mama cat would do. And they must receive attention if they are to become human companions.

Re-housing needed

Motzkus is known for her willingness to help with feral cats, and she didn’t hesitate to offer her home when the 2017 Minerva Fire threatened Quincy.

Although mandatory evacuations never became necessary, there was a period when no one knew where the fire would burn.

The stress of worrying about the animals living at Friends was almost more than Buzzetta and others could manage, Motzkus recalled. “It took a lot of stress off Rose,” Motzkus said.

When she offered her home and outbuilding to the animals, eight volunteers gathered to prepare the cats for travel.

Two trucks and a trailer moved the animals, food and other necessities to Cromberg.

In all, 16 cats arrived at the Motzkus’ home. Some of the cats were housed in one of the outbuildings where they were secure and safe. Others moved into part of the home.